Driving the track car to and from the track - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Driving the track car to and from the track

I'm torn.

I have a Lotus Elise. It's used 95% on the track and 5% on the street.
From that 5%, 4% is driving to and from the track.
Unfortunately right now I don't have the option of towing the car around.

I've decided I want to increase my safety on the track, as I'm getting more and more comfortable in open passing groups.
So I'm getting a Tillett B6 XL and a nice 6pt harness, that will be combined with a new full face helmet and HANS device.

Here's my dilemma. Do I...

* keep the 3pt seat belt and stock wheel w/ airbag, use that to drive to the track, then disable the airbag on the track (do I even need to disable it)
OR
* get rid of the airbag, install a quick-release momo wheel, drive the car with the harness to/from the track

I really just want the safest solution.

Last edited by wired_; 08-25-2019 at 07:50 PM.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-25-2019, 07:48 PM
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I'm in the same boat. Would love to have a trailer and truck, but no space to put them. The three point and airbag is certainly the safest way to drive it on the street. I don't bother disabling the airbag for track use, but probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Driving around with a helmet on would likely raise the risk of something happening as its going to limit your visibility.

Driving with an aftermarket wheel without an airbag obviously has its risks, but no different than driving an older car that never came with one to begin with. If only going to and from the track, the odds are much more slim of an accident compared to if you were driving it every day. Thats my take on it at least.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 04:02 AM
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Inokenetic makes bolts that allow mounting both the harness and 3 point belt to the seat. I use that, I wouldn't want to drive in a harness on the street or in a hans in the street.
I'm also more 60-40 track street.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 08:45 AM
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I'm in about the same situation, my car is mostly track use but I do drive it on the street from time to time. I picked up a trailer to get to the track though, worth it to me but understand the extra costs and storage.

I've removed the stock seat belt and just run the 6pt harness on the street. This is a pain and I always feel like an idiot wearing racing harnesses on the street (get black harnesses is you're going to do this so it is not as obvious). I've removed the stock steering wheel going to a removable racing wheel without an airbag. This is not a safe way to drive on the street. I'm guessing you could go the removable steering wheel route and have a way to put on the stock wheel for street driving and another wheel for track and just keep swapping out the resistor to keep the air bag light off, but this would move the stock wheel some and may make the air bag too close or not work as designed.

The harnesses are a great improvement when on track though, really keep you in your seat.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 09:48 AM
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How about just renting a truck and trailer/tow for the event. Its not that much.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 10:20 AM
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I use the BOE hitch and very small trailer. Hitch comes off in about 5 minutes

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad MaTTer View Post
How about just renting a truck and trailer/tow for the event. Its not that much.
I would worry about putting it on a u-haul trailer. I saw a really nice BMW lose its front end backing off of a u-haul trailer and the Lotus is probably lower than it was. Better to have a completely flat trailer. Plus there is that saying that you are 2 seconds faster on track if you have a trailer.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SS Lotus Elise View Post
I would worry about putting it on a u-haul trailer. I saw a really nice BMW lose its front end backing off of a u-haul trailer and the Lotus is probably lower than it was. Better to have a completely flat trailer. Plus there is that saying that you are 2 seconds faster on track if you have a trailer.
I've seen a few Eliges on the U-Haul trailers before, just need to be careful. If you check Craig's List or similar you can usually find trailers to rent that are more accommodating to haul cars.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 01:26 PM
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Pros and cons to both. If you make the car a trailer queen, you get to take all the 'street legal' stuff off and save some weight and complexity unless required for the class. At least, you don't have to maintain it anymore and can disconnect/bypass stuff. The bad news is that it's now a trailer queen and you can't legally drive it anywhere on public roads. More bad news is that you have to have a tow vehicle and trailer conveniently available.

The good news is that an Elise is one of the lightest road cars in the world. Stripped to racing weight it's even lighter. It's small, too. All of this means that you don't want a two-axle car hauler or equipment trailer, because they're too big, too heavy, and overbuilt for your use (which means they also ride harsher than required carrying your little track toy). What you need is a true race car trailer. An Elige is so light that you can carry it on a single axle trailer easily. You can also put it on a lower profile trailer using a drop axle or, even better, a torsion axle (which also provides independent suspension). Low profile trailers have gentler ramp angles, and shorter trailers are easier to tilt to a convenient roll-on/roll off angle. I'd start off with a long single-axle yard equipment trailer if you don't want to buy a dedicated racecar trailer. You might have to put some treated wood down to stiffen the deck at the tire contact patch, but it would be an easy modification. Weld RV leveling jacks to the rear of the frame and put a tongue lift on it. Run a 2500 lb torsion axle and you get a deck 18" or less off the pavement. Figure out your loading position to get 10% tongue weight and put D rings into the deck to tie the wheels down with at that position. If you're feeling plush or lazy, put an electric tongue jack and winch on it, otherwise just go with a come along tower and eye and a hand-crank tongue jack. The trailer would be ~500 lbs (consider aluminum if you can afford it) and would easily carry 2000+, which is your track car plus the inevitable goodie box, cooler, easy-up shelter, chairs, and maybe change of wheels/tires.

That's class 3 hitch territory with 250 lbs of tongue weight, which means you can tow it with a small sport ute, a small pickup, or even a big sedan (like my Grand Marquis, which is one reason why I keep the old barge around). Further, it will have low frontal area, so low drag and good weight distribution makes it an easy and cheap tow. The more you like driving to the track, the more track days you'll be willing to drive to...

Alternative B is the hitch on the Elise with a track day trailer. There are plenty of pictures of this sort of thing around. It's the minimum footprint model, but does mean that you might be calling the rollback and a friend if you break the track toy, and it means you'll be driving the track toy on the street, which means it can't be a dedicated track toy. It also means that it'll pulverize your kidneys on some public roads if you have the suspension set up for track days...
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 02:50 PM
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If you're driving it on the street, or really anytime without a harness and HANS, I would avoid a harness. In a collision, your body will be held in place due to the harness and seat while your head will be free to move putting all the force of stopping your head into your neck. 3-points and air bag or trailering are the ways to go.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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I don't drive the car on the street almost at all anymore. To / From the track and the occasional (ie, monthly) Cars & Coffee. That's all.

An RV / trailer is what I really want. The problem is I don't have anywhere to store it, since I rent an apartment. I'm looking into secure storage solutions, but they're not cheap. Still, better than buying a house around here. I can afford my tracking, or I could attempt to buy a house, but doing both... eeeeeh.

It seems that I don't really have a choice in the end. Getting in the Tillett B6 without taking the steering wheel off is a PITA. Makes normal Elise entry look so easy!

It's not like we have side airbags. A side collision on the street would probably still **** my neck up hard. I would have to be super careful when driving to tracks, until I figure out a way to stop driving this car on the street.



Quote:
Originally Posted by LostPawn View Post
I'm in about the same situation, my car is mostly track use but I do drive it on the street from time to time. I picked up a trailer to get to the track though, worth it to me but understand the extra costs and storage.

I've removed the stock seat belt and just run the 6pt harness on the street. This is a pain and I always feel like an idiot wearing racing harnesses on the street (get black harnesses is you're going to do this so it is not as obvious). I've removed the stock steering wheel going to a removable racing wheel without an airbag. This is not a safe way to drive on the street. I'm guessing you could go the removable steering wheel route and have a way to put on the stock wheel for street driving and another wheel for track and just keep swapping out the resistor to keep the air bag light off, but this would move the stock wheel some and may make the air bag too close or not work as designed.

The harnesses are a great improvement when on track though, really keep you in your seat.
Yeah... sounds like the way to go.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad MaTTer View Post
How about just renting a truck and trailer/tow for the event. Its not that much.
I'm tracking like twice a month now... It'd add up quickly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by richthom View Post
I use the BOE hitch and very small trailer. Hitch comes off in about 5 minutes
Very useful overall, but not sure how it'd help with my seat problems?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit_R View Post
I'm in the same boat. Would love to have a trailer and truck, but no space to put them. The three point and airbag is certainly the safest way to drive it on the street. I don't bother disabling the airbag for track use, but probably wouldn't be a bad idea. Driving around with a helmet on would likely raise the risk of something happening as its going to limit your visibility.

Driving with an aftermarket wheel without an airbag obviously has its risks, but no different than driving an older car that never came with one to begin with. If only going to and from the track, the odds are much more slim of an accident compared to if you were driving it every day. Thats my take on it at least.
What kind of seat do you have? I tried the Tillett B6 and getting in the car with the steering wheel there is very annoying.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KWin View Post
Inokenetic makes bolts that allow mounting both the harness and 3 point belt to the seat. I use that, I wouldn't want to drive in a harness on the street or in a hans in the street.
I'm also more 60-40 track street.
Yeah, you drive a lot on the street. I don't really drive this car on the street anymore.


Quote:
Originally Posted by steelypip View Post
Pros and cons to both. If you make the car a trailer queen, you get to take all the 'street legal' stuff off and save some weight and complexity unless required for the class. At least, you don't have to maintain it anymore and can disconnect/bypass stuff. The bad news is that it's now a trailer queen and you can't legally drive it anywhere on public roads. More bad news is that you have to have a tow vehicle and trailer conveniently available.

The good news is that an Elise is one of the lightest road cars in the world. Stripped to racing weight it's even lighter. It's small, too. All of this means that you don't want a two-axle car hauler or equipment trailer, because they're too big, too heavy, and overbuilt for your use (which means they also ride harsher than required carrying your little track toy). What you need is a true race car trailer. An Elige is so light that you can carry it on a single axle trailer easily. You can also put it on a lower profile trailer using a drop axle or, even better, a torsion axle (which also provides independent suspension). Low profile trailers have gentler ramp angles, and shorter trailers are easier to tilt to a convenient roll-on/roll off angle. I'd start off with a long single-axle yard equipment trailer if you don't want to buy a dedicated racecar trailer. You might have to put some treated wood down to stiffen the deck at the tire contact patch, but it would be an easy modification. Weld RV leveling jacks to the rear of the frame and put a tongue lift on it. Run a 2500 lb torsion axle and you get a deck 18" or less off the pavement. Figure out your loading position to get 10% tongue weight and put D rings into the deck to tie the wheels down with at that position. If you're feeling plush or lazy, put an electric tongue jack and winch on it, otherwise just go with a come along tower and eye and a hand-crank tongue jack. The trailer would be ~500 lbs (consider aluminum if you can afford it) and would easily carry 2000+, which is your track car plus the inevitable goodie box, cooler, easy-up shelter, chairs, and maybe change of wheels/tires.

That's class 3 hitch territory with 250 lbs of tongue weight, which means you can tow it with a small sport ute, a small pickup, or even a big sedan (like my Grand Marquis, which is one reason why I keep the old barge around). Further, it will have low frontal area, so low drag and good weight distribution makes it an easy and cheap tow. The more you like driving to the track, the more track days you'll be willing to drive to...

Alternative B is the hitch on the Elise with a track day trailer. There are plenty of pictures of this sort of thing around. It's the minimum footprint model, but does mean that you might be calling the rollback and a friend if you break the track toy, and it means you'll be driving the track toy on the street, which means it can't be a dedicated track toy. It also means that it'll pulverize your kidneys on some public roads if you have the suspension set up for track days...
I agree 100%. The problem I have to solve is not getting a trailer / RV. It's storing it


Quote:
Originally Posted by BruinBears View Post
If you're driving it on the street, or really anytime without a harness and HANS, I would avoid a harness. In a collision, your body will be held in place due to the harness and seat while your head will be free to move putting all the force of stopping your head into your neck. 3-points and air bag or trailering are the ways to go.
I hear ya... It'd only be for to / from the track tho. At least until I figure out a trailer solution that works with my lack of property ownership.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 03:57 PM
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A 3pt belt are designed to work in a variety of crashes so provide the broadest safety window on the street. I drive in the canyons with a 4pt as I like how it holds me in place. I use the 3pt when I am making a quick trip. Regardless, there is no perfect answer for your situation. Feel free to call me to discuss.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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A 3pt belt are designed to work in a variety of crashes so provide the broadest safety window on the street. I drive in the canyons with a 4pt as I like how it holds me in place. I use the 3pt when I am making a quick trip. Regardless, there is no perfect answer for your situation. Feel free to call me to discuss.
Thanks Shinoo. If getting in a bucket seat wasn't such a pain with the stock wheel, I think that'd be the best compromise. But I experimented w/ another Exige today, that has a Tillett B6 XL and getting in the car without removing the wheel was literally painful. I'm 6', 190 pounds. I'll keep the 3pt, but not sure about the airbag anymore.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Alright. Decision made.

I'll get the B5 instead of the B6. Slight risk, since no-one I know has it, but based on what I've read, it should be good.

Harness bar + 6pt harness.

I'll keep the 3pt and airbag for street use.

When/if I ever figure out a trailer solution, I'll consider going track-only.
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 06:15 PM
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I'm a little surprised you're going with the B5 for a 95% track car. There is virtually no side bolsters on that seat and with all this talk about safety it, to my knowledge, has not been tested nor passed any official safety validation (e.g., FIA).

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post #16 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 06:39 PM
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You are two seconds a lap faster if you know you donít have to drive her home.

I have a good trailer for our cars Iím not using, in case that could help. Listed in marketplace.

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post #17 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-26-2019, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mwehnes View Post
I'm a little surprised you're going with the B5 for a 95% track car. There is virtually no side bolsters on that seat and with all this talk about safety it, to my knowledge, has not been tested nor passed any official safety validation (e.g., FIA).
Well... I can't have it all. Here's my reasoning: I'm already driving on the track with a 3pt and no hans

With the B5, I can go full 6pt harness PLUS hans. At the same time, I can stay street legal, which is important to me. I'd feel very uncomfortable otherwise.

It's not just street safety, it's also insurance coverage. Imagine if I get into an accident while driving to a track. It's not my fault, I get hurt and insurance denies claims because I didn't have an airbag. Ugh.

Is the B5 going to be as safe as the B6? Probably not. Is it going to provide me with some additional safety and peace of mind on the track and also keep me in my freaking place better than the 3pt? Probably!


Quote:
Originally Posted by XHILR8N! View Post
You are two seconds a lap faster if you know you donít have to drive her home.

I have a good trailer for our cars Iím not using, in case that could help. Listed in marketplace.

Attachment 1239208
I believe you.

Trailer's nice. If only I had a place to store it
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post #18 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KWin View Post
Inokenetic makes bolts that allow mounting both the harness and 3 point belt to the seat. I use that, I wouldn't want to drive in a harness on the street or in a hans in the street.
I'm also more 60-40 track street.
Used this solution for many years. Can't beat OEM safety on the street.

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post #19 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 04:43 AM
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I've seen a few Eliges on the U-Haul trailers before, just need to be careful. If you check Craig's List or similar you can usually find trailers to rent that are more accommodating to haul cars.
I realized later my front ride height was around 115mm and I was able to get it on a uhaul... lots of wood. Lots and lots of wood was required... Big pain in the ass, but still doable. I drive the car to the track instead just to avoid that headache
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post #20 of 25 (permalink) Old 08-27-2019, 06:34 AM
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Difficult choice. I also use my car 80% on the track. I have a 4 point harness on a stock seat for track use and retain the stock belts for street use.The harness holds you in place during hard cornering at the track and it does enhance the driving experience. However, going to a full blown "racing" setup with seat, 6 point harness, removable steering wheel might unconsciously push you to drive beyond your limits and you will spin and crash. Our cars are very good at track but the fiberglass clams are fragile and EXPENSIVE. A very small off track excursion can be very costly. My bank account knows that.

In the end there is no perfect answer. Do what makes you feel more comfortable. Enjoy your car.
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